North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s moves are more of a strategic necessity. AFP pic

IN 1945, Korea became an almost perfect scientific experiment. One population with the same geography and culture became two test groups.

One is capitalist and the other one apparently is not. Whichever metric you use to calculate gross domestic product, population, life expectancy, education, technology and military, we can safely assume that South Korea is the champion.

The North is so underdeveloped, and all of this makes us curious why a failed state dares to threaten militaries stronger than its own.

North Korea acts like a younger sibling provoking his stronger brothers. We might think that Kim Jong-un is a mad man, with all of his nuclear theatrics, but he’s been incredibly lucky to survive all of this.

Life has never been better for the Kim family. His people may be starving and his diplomatic skills may be laughable, but he lives in perpetual adoration of his people.

Even the most brutal dictator prioritises the needs of his citizens, knowing that a hungry or unhappy population is a ticking time bomb.

But, North Korea is a rare exception. As hungry as you may be, you have been taught that it is no different anywhere else.

Revolting would do no good, biting the only hand that occasionally feeds you.

No one will demand freedom of speech when they are barely able to feed their family.

You may hear a looming reform, but it is wishful thinking. Jong-un knows better than anyone that a better life would create far too ambitious a population.

What would normally be incompetence is a political strategy.

Smart politicians know how hollow these threats are, but they too are playing the political game. The political mood shifts from hard to soft to hard again. Playing soft only helps Jong-un and getting tough has little effect.

The United States has gone on a strategic patience mode, but we know that means the US is doing nothing. Still, Jong-un knows this cannot go on forever. Eventually, someone is going to get impatient. Hence, the ultimate bomb card.

The capitalists have too much to lose from a nuclear war. Having said so, Jong-un playing the bomb card does not necessarily mean he wants to conquer the world. His moves are more of a strategic necessity. A good chess player can anticipate his opponent’s next move.

You cannot beat a better player because he can figure out his next best move and yours too.

But, if you know you are the weaker player, you can stop trying to beat your opponent using your skills and change strategies by making irrational, unexplainable moves.

No military wants to risk playing with nuclear weapons, and Jong-un knows this.

When you hear stories about Jong-un killing his own family members with anti-aircraft guns, pay attention to what that makes you think about him and consider how that plays to his advantage.

Jong-un knows that he cannot defeat the US, but he can reduce its power by being unpredictable. As long as you keep hearing news of missile tests, pending war, and famine, you can be sure that Jong-un is thriving.

On a personal note, two countries with two ideological extremes are never good.

One is too suppressed, while the other is too free. Therefore, a mix of freedom and suppression is always the best way to go. That is how you keep society functioning, as you need rules and regulations.


Kuala Lumpur

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